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Cable Technology Feature Article

May 11, 2010

U.S. Cable Companies Might Face Disruption from Loose Satellite

By Alice Straight, TMCnet Web Editor

There's a satellite loose in the galaxy and it might just interrupt U.S. television viewing.

Communications company Intelsat (News - Alert) lost control of the Galaxy 15 satellite on April 8 and it is creeping toward the adjacent path of another TV communications satellite that serves U.S. cable companies.

Galaxy 15 continues to receive and transmit satellite signals, and they will probably interfere with the second satellite, known as AMC 11, if Galaxy 15 drifts into its orbit as expected around May 23, according to AMC 11's owner, SES (News - Alert) World Skies. Both companies say there is no danger of the two satellites colliding.

AMC 11 receives digital programming from cable television channels and transmits it to all U.S. cable networks from its orbit 22,000 miles above the equator, SES World Skies said. It operates on the same frequencies as Galaxy 15.

SES does have the ability to use AMC 11's propulsion system to shift that satellite about 60 miles away to an orbit that's still within its carefully prescribed 'orbital box' but as far away as possible from Galaxy 15.

Intelsat said it was analyzing signals from Galaxy 15 daily in order to predict its trajectory and was trying to figure out if it can shut down the satellite's transmission so it would not interfere with AMC 11.

Alice Straight is a TMCnet editor. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Alice Straight